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Cheltenham Clues - Racing: Harris up for Knight battle with Irish stars

There are only two more weekends remaining before the Cheltenham Festival and trainer Milton Harris is eyeing up a Triumph Hurdle battle with the Irish raiding party.

Harris' Knight Salute remains unbeaten over hurdles following Saturday's Adonis win at Kempton and the trainer isn't going to be running scared when it comes to facing the Irish raiders.

Salute in the Triumph mix

Saturday's Adonis Hurdle was the latest success for rising star Knight Salute, the flag-bearer in what continues to be an outstanding season for trainer Milton Harris.

Formerly a smart performer on the Flat, Knight Salute has now won all five starts over hurdles and is a 12/1 chance to win next month's Triumph Hurdle on 18th March.

Irish raiders Vauban, Pied Piper and Fil D'or are all shorter in the ante-post betting but it has to be wondered if Knight Salute would be shorter in the market were he trained in the UK?

He has now won three times at Grade 2 level, including over the course and distance at Cheltenham that he will meet in the Triumph.

On the back of Saturday's Adonis win, rider Paddy Brennan flagged up Knight Salute as being 'the quickest horse he has ridden over hurdles' - quite a taking omission for a rider of Brennan's longevity.

Harris meanwhile was acknowledging that the Irish raiders will be hard to beat in Cheltenham, but he's certainly not cowering from the scrap as he suggested: "I'm not sure we'll beat them but they'll have a race from the last" following Saturday's win.

He's the shortest-priced British contender in the mix for the 4YO contest and, on form, he certainly deserves that accolade.

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Power on for Thomas

Sam Thomas enjoyed a fine weekend last time out, with Good Risk At All advertising his potential, and while the weekend just gone wasn't perhaps as standout, there were certainly reasons for optimism for the Welsh trainer.

Amongst those was Our Power, who finished third in the Grade 3 Coral Trophy at Kempton on Saturday.

He was ridden conservatively by Charlie Deutsch on what was his first attempt at the three-mile distance. At one stage, Our Power seemed sure to be outpaced but he rallied in striking fashion up the home straight and took that podium place in the end.

The finishing effort certainly seemed to suggest that stamina wasn't an issue and Our Power could be an interesting contender for the Ultima Handicap Chase on 15th March at 20/1. You can follow the action via our Sports Live Streaming platform.

He went into Saturday's race at Kempton with a rating of 136 and it's improbable the assessor will be putting him up for finishing third.

That mark should see him get into the Ultima near the foot of the weights and he could be one to improve at the trip, given what we saw a Kempton.

Conflated to swerve Gold Cup

Owner Michael O'Leary has confirmed that Irish Gold Cup winner Conflated won't be going for the Cheltenham Gold Cup on 18th March.

Instead, the Gigginstown supremo has pinpointed the Ryanair Chase 24 hours earlier, a race Conflated is 11/1 to win.

Conflated is trained by Gordon Elliott, who is set to target the Gold Cup with 4/1 chance Galvin. O'Leary told the press over the weekend that he doesn't believe Conflated would beat Galvin, therefore the Gold Cup isn't the race for him.

That leaves the 2m5f Ryanair as the target, where Conflated will do battle with 8/11 defending champion Allaho instead.

The Willie Mullins-trained Allaho will be featuring as many people's banker of the meeting but there's certainly some each-way value to be had with him spearheading the betting.

After a career-best effort in the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival this month, Conflated goes to Cheltenham on a high and could be a decent alternative to the market leader.

Minella for Power in Gold Cup

Trainer Henry de Bromhead ha confirmed that Robbie Power is "highly likely" to keep the ride on Minella Indo in next month's Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Power, who won the Blue Riband on Sizing John for Jessica Harrington in 2017, was on board Minella Indo as he finished second in the Irish Gold Cup behind Conflated at the beginning of February.

That run pleased connections and Minella Indo was fourth in the same race last year before winning at Cheltenham.

Jack Kennedy was on board for that big-race win, with Rachael Blackmore having sided with A Plus Tard instead – they finished second in a one-two for De Bromhead.

Kennedy is likely to be needed by Gordon Elliott and missed the ride on Minella Indo at Leopardstown this month when he partnered Delta Work instead.

Minella Indo is 11/2 to retain the Cheltenham Gold Cup on 18th March, with stablemate A Plus Tard favourite at 3/1.

De Bromhead told the Racing Post that Minella Indo is in 'mighty form' at home since his second placing at Leopardstown, before adding that Power was in 'pole position' to have the ride at Cheltenham.

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